There are four words (hȃyȃ, lȃbash, mālē, tsȃlach) we will look at that are used in the Old Testament to convey that the Spirit “came upon” man. The use of these different words seems to indicate different intensities of “anointing.” Just to be clear, any anointing of the Holy Spirit is a big deal!
Hȃyȃ; Strong’s #1961 – Nehemiah 9:30 You were patient with them. By your Spirit, you admonished them through your prophets (NIV).
Balaam – Numbers 24:2
Othniel – Judges 3:10
Jephthah – Judges 11:29
King Saul’s men – 1 Samuel 19: 20
Azariah son of Oded for King Asa – 2 Chronicles 15:1
Jahaziel descendent of Asaph for King Jehoshaphat – 2 Chronicles 20:14, 20
According to Strong’s/Vines Concordance when used as a verb it emphasizes that a person is present. This is also the word when God told Moses, “I am (hȃyȃ) that I am (hȃyȃ). Most people will recognize Balaam, the deceiver, and Jephthah, a man of faith (Hebrews 11: 32), but the rest of these men are mentioned once and no more. It would seem that this is the “lightest” connection with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament; the reason I say this is because of duration, not intensity. The word Hȃyȃ is a very interesting word that is used in many contexts (future study).
There are many men and women who were prophets in the Old Testament and most of them have no record as to when or how the Spirit moved on them to prophecy (or see visions/dreams). Othniel and Jephthah were judges and their touch by the Spirit is in connection with them doing that task. The last three on the list prophesied, once, and we never see them again. Balaam’s (See The Lord Your/My God) words to Balak (Numbers 23, 24) are “good” words but his life and actions are wrong; still, he was used by the Spirit.